Den store kroppen

Earlier this week I was contacted by performance artist Sidsel Christensen. Last year I did a job photographing her performance called “Christine Schriber utenfor rammen”. This time she had another performance called “Den store kroppen” and wondered if I could take some photos.

Being a little short notice I didn’t get the time to scout the location before hand. It turned out it was a dark room lit only by a projection. Low light and harsh lighting was hardly the best conditions, but it’s all about making the best of it.

The performance, named “Den store kroppen” or “The Big Body”, was a performance art piece that brought the viewers on a journey from a cellular to a cosmic level.

This was also the first time I tried my new Fujifilm X-T10 with Fujifilm 23mm 1:1.4 lens for a job. It was actually a great kit for the job because the 23mm is very sharp at f/1.4 making it a great combo in low light. The X-T10 is also a lot smaller and discreet and more silent than the my Nikon D800. Unfortunately 23mm (or 35 full frame equivalent) was not the best focal length for this job. Most of my shots was either wider, like 24mm, or closer to 70mm.

Despite the low light challenge, it was a fun shoot and a good performance. Check out some of the images below!

Should you use image stabilization when shooting DSLR video?

This may seem like a somewhat stupid question, but I’ve heard people give a definitive ‘Yes’ and a definitive ‘No’ to this question, so I realized I had to figure it out myself.

Image Stabilizer
What is image stabilization?
Most of today’s DSLR and mirrorless lenses comes with image stabilizing (referred to IS from here on). The different brands labels their IS technology differently (Nikon VR, Tamron VC, Canon IS, Sigma OS, Fuji & Panasonic OIS), but it’s mostly the same. What it does is stabilize the lens elements, and it eliminates the vibrations from your hand, breathing etc. When you shoot photos hand-held this gives you a sharper image and allows you to shoot on slower shutter speeds.

Now, most agree that IS is generally a good thing. The debate is should you use the IS when shooting video with your DSLR or not. Some say it’s not a problem while others claim the IS in DSLR lenses are not designed to handle video, and therefore shouldn’t be used.
On a traditional video camera it’s simple. You should always turn the IS on when shooting hand-held. The same general rule goes for stills photography. Unless your camera is sitting on a tripod always use the IS. It’s almost always better and gives you sharper images, eliminates motion blur and let’s you shoot at slower shutter speeds.

When it comes to video a lot of people claim the same rule to be true, however others claim that the problem with DSLR lenses are that the IS is not designed for video. Typically the IS in a DSLR lens will hold the image stable for a short period of time and then reset the IS. This cause a little “jump” or “jerk” in the image often followed by a click sound as the IS resets. If you’ve shot with a long lens with IS you have probably seen this. On a traditional video camera this isn’t a problem because the IS is designed to be working constantly.

Let’s see!

I grabbed my D800 and a Sigma 70-200mm 1:2.8 OS lens. This isn’t as high-class as Canon’s L series or Nikon’s 70-200mm, so this is a good test to see how a cheaper IS handles video. Check out the video below to see how the IS performs on video!

As you see from the video the IS is making a big difference! It makes the image much more smooth, but it’s not without problems. It’s not as smooth as the IS on a video camera and it still acts a little nervous and produced some “ticks”. However, we don’t see any of the big jumps in the picture as I expected.

There’s a pretty good reason you don’t get the jumps when shooting video. When the camera is shooting stills it actually turns the IS off and on. As you press the button to focus the camera turns the IS on. After you let go of the button it turns the IS off after a while and locks it in the neutral position. You get the “jump” in the image as the IS is turned on and off. So, why don’t you get it when shooting video? Well, because the camera leaves the IS on as long as you’re recording. At least that’s the case on my camera.

Conclusion

So, does this mean you should use IS or not? Well as you can see from the video the IS can be a big advantage. It give you a smoother image, however it’s not 100% smooth, and in my case the IS is giving some unflattering “ticks”. Another problem is panning and moving. The test video was shot while trying to hold the image still. This is what still image IS is made for. Once you start moving the IS will act differently and may have a less flattering effect.

The effect of the IS, and how it performs and looks, will vary from lens to lens as well. My lens was a cheaper and older lens. A newer and/or a more high-end lens will have better IS which may act differently. Newer lenses are also made with video in mind, and their IS will be designed to handle video better.

In general I would say “Yes”. You should use IS when shooting video on your DSLR. However, in my case it will depend on the situation, the project and the equipment. My best tip is to get to know your equipment. Test this yourself and see how the IS on your lenses performs and decide if the advantages of using IS outweighs the issues it raises.

Further reading:

This article explains how IS works

 

20 millimeter madness

Stokkavannet, Stavanger. Shot on Nikon D800, Nikon 20mm 1:2.8 AF-D @ 1/80 sec, f/3.2, ISO 800

Stokkavannet, Stavanger. Shot on Nikon D800, Nikon 20mm 1:2.8 AF-D @ 1/80 sec, f/3.2, ISO 800

We’ve had some nice weather the past days. The other day I had an afternoon free, so I decided to take my camera for a little walk.

I decided to go to a local lake to do some nature shots. I had only been there once before, and so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I knew there was a lot of open area around the lake, and maybe some birds and other wildlife. Plants were blooming, and insects were crawling out of their winter sleep.

I only wanted to bring one fixed focal lens. Some may say this is risky, because you risk loosing some great shots. I find doing a shoot with only one focal length triggers my creativity, and I focus more on the shots this lens is capable of and use less time changing lenses, fiddling with the gear, and messing about. You may risk loosing some great shots, but at the same time you’ll probably come back with some unexpected and even greater shots!

I considered bringing a 105mm macro and a 28mm, but my lens choice for the day was Nikon 20mm 2.8 AF-D. Below are some roughly edited shots from the afternoon.

 

Lise Karlsnes at Offshore Strategikonferansen 2014

Lise Karlsnes on stage at Offshore Strategikonferansen 2014 in Stavanger

Nikon D800, Sigma 70-200mm 1:2.8,
@ 200mm, f/2.8, 1/160, ISO 1600
Offshore Strategikonferansen 2014

Earlier this week I spent three days as a photographer on an annual, national conference for the oil and gas industry. I also did photography for this event last year. It’s a fun event to photograph because it attracts attention and some high-profile people. This year I also sold a couple of my photos to newspapers.

Most of my photos were of presentations and mingling, however on the second day there was a concert with Lise Karlsnes, a Norwegian singer famous from the band Briskeby. She had a great show on stage, and caused for some shots that were a bit more spectacular than suits and Powerpoint.